How to Grow in a Healthy Way

Every nonprofit has “pie in the sky” goals for growth, but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to scale up in a healthy way before you jump in. In Season 3 Episode 10, I asked Tari Hughes, the CEO of Center for Nonprofit Management, how CNM’s consultants work with nonprofits to ask and answer the right questions as they scale up. I also spoke with Lauren LaViola, former Executive Director of Children Of Restaurant Employees (CORE), how her organization was able to grow on a national scale with all of their stakeholders spread across the country.


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☑️ Start with a strategic plan.

As Tari says in this episode, a strategic plan helps you define your goals so you know when you reach them. Strategic plans also help you recognize which goals are realistic, and the scaling which will be needed to reach each objective. If you don’t have a strategic plan for your organization, I recommend going back to the podcast episode Season 2, Episode 12: Strategic Plans and How to Make Them.

☑️ Think about how you need to build capacity before you can grow.

In this episode, Tari shares an example of how her organization (Center for Nonprofit Management) needed to build their capacity to work toward their goals for growth. For example, CNM needed to build an entirely new IT infrastructure if they were going to be able to revamp their program offerings because their current IT system was 6 years old and a little clunky.

☑️ Be willing to let the old things go.

Sometimes when you grow, you won’t have the capacity or even the need to continue offering every service you have been offering up to this point. (Listen to the full podcast episode to hear Jenni’s example of a client who needs to let go of some of their old programs.) This can be difficult for longtime stakeholders to accept, but you have to think, “Can we serve our mission and the end client better with or without this program?”

☑️ Check out Tari’s other recommended resources.

☑️ When you meet someone who is passionate about your mission, activate them immediately.

Lauren told me that whenever she meets someone in the community or receives an email from someone who’s passionate about CORE’s mission, she or another CORE team member responds immediately to find a way to plug them into the organization. You can train passionate people to advocate for your organization, but you can’t train people to be passionate.

☑️ Empower your stakeholders to help scale your organization.

I loved hearing Lauren talk about how she empowers her volunteers to train and lead new volunteers. Although CORE’s staff won’t be able to have deep, personal relationships with every single supporter, their supporters all benefit from connections with one another to stay plugged in.

☑️ Take advantage of new technologies to streamline your operations.

Listen to the full episode to hear Jenni and Lauren talk about Little Green Light (a donor management system), Board Effect (a board management system), and more. These technologies save your staff and board members so much time and effort as your organization grows.

And if you need more help...

☑️ Email me and tell me what's going on at your nonprofit.

What are your current goals? What issues are you facing? Give me some background information, and we'll go from there! I never charge for an initial consultation, and I'll be honest if I can't help you. I'll also be happy to connect you with the other resources in my network who may be able to provide better advice or services for your situation.

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